The first recorded Armagh County Board meeting was on 30th March 1889. Nine clubs were present including Tullysaran O'Connells. One of those responsible for the affiliation was Terry McCartan, father of the late Rosaleen Toner of Ballymacully.The early years are very hazy, with a reference in the Armagh Guardian on the 20th May 1904 of a match being played at Kilmatroy near Tullysaran. Club historical records date back to 1932. It seems that by then, the name Tullysaran O'Connells had given way to Knappagh O'Connells or the Sons of O'Connor, Knappagh. The games were played at Trainor's field at Knappagh crossroads.
Names from the 1930's were:
Paddy Callaghan, Pat Callaghan, J Campbell, Jackie Cauldwell, Paddy Conlon, Phil Cunningham, Eamon Devlin, Mark Digby, Tony Digby, Vincent Digby, Dan Donnelly, Frank Donnelly, Ned Donnelly, Paddy Donnelly, Jimmy Dougan, Johnny Dougan, Gerard Ferrity, Pat Ferrity, Matt Heay, Andy Hughes.
Joseph Hughes, Seamus Kearney, Gene Largy, Larry little, Jimmy McGerrigan, Paddy McGerrigan, Paddy Madden, Peter McGahan, Bobby McGlennon, John McGlone, John McKeever, Andy McKenna, James McKenna, John McKenna, Tommy McKenna, Malachy McNamara, Eddie McQuillan, Gerry McVeigh, Frank Mills, Jimmy Mills.
Cahal Morgan, James Morgan, Pat Morgan, Sean Morgan, Mick Morrison, Malachy Murphy, Ned Murphy, Packie Murphy, Jack O'Kane, Owen O'Kane, Tom O'Kane, Hugh Powell, Pat Quinn, Tom Robinson, Hugh Sheridan, Joe Sheridan, Joe Smyth, Barney Toner, Jim Vallely.
In 1939 a Parish League was set up. This brought in players who hadn't previously been mentioned. The teams in this league were:
White Arrows from Maydown
Milltown / Aughatarra
The winners of this league were the White Arrows and new names to appear from this league were:
Peter Carr, Peter Hughes, Peter O'Brien, L Cassidy, John McAnallen, Paddy Quinn, Jimmy Conlon, Joe McCool, Eddie Traynor, Jim Doherty, Joe McGurk, Henry White, Paddy Garvey, Jimmy McKenna, Joe White, Peter Gorman, John McKeown, Johnny White, James Hughes, Jim Nugent, Malachy White, John Hughes, Paddy Nugent, Packie White.
After 1939 a few games were reported in 1940 and 1941. Not much more is recorded until 1947 when Hugh McGahan represented Tullysaran at a meeting in Troddens Hotel in Armagh. The club now appears to be known as Tullysaran O'Connells again.In 1948 another Parish League was organized.
There were five teams this time:
New names to appear in this league were:
Pat Callaghan, The Conlons, Mick Conlon, Paddy John Conlon, Big Pat Conlon, Peter John Corrigan, Eugene Daly, Mosie Daly, Pat Daly, Frank Dillon, John Dillon, Pat Donnelly, Francie Farley, Frank Farley, Pat Foster, Pat Groman, Barney Grimley, Eugene Kearney, Francie Kernan, Malachy Mcnamara, Frank Mills, Mick Morrison, P Murray, The Robinsons, Pat Robinson, Tom Robinson, Vincent Terris, Mick Toal.
In 1949 Pat Comiskey and Mosie Daly figured in trials for the Mid-Division Junior County trials. Mosie Daly was selected. At the 1950 A.GM. Fr McDonnell made a strong appeal for football training to take place on evening a week. He said this was the best way to build a strong team.
The Committee for 1950 was:
Chairman: Peter McGahan, Vice-Chairman: Hugh Powell, Secretary: Bernard Terris, Assist. Secretary: Charles Cullen, Treasurer: Peter Donnelly, Captain: Mosie Daly, Vice-Captain: Francie Farley.
In 1950 there are very few records or reports on Tullysaran O'Connells. Eugene McKenna represented the club at the County Convention in 1951 and M McKenna and S Smyth in 1955.
Records emerge again along with regular newspaper reports in 1957. This turned out to be the most successful year in the club's history as it won the Junior League and Trodden Cup that year. By August they had also reached the Junior Championship Final. They were favourites to win it as they had clear-cut wins in every game up to the final and were undefeated in the league. The final day arrived on the 25th August against Armagh Harps Juniors at Blackwatertown.
Squad for the 1957 Junior Championship final:
Jimmy O'Callaghan, Pat Daly, Malachy Mckenna, Jim Campbell, Brendan Donnelly, Vincent Mckenna, Noel Collins, Harry Donnelly, Connie McParland, Mick Conlon, Dessie Farley, Jimmy Smyth, Paddy John Conlon, Peter Hughes, Sean Smyth, Mosie Daly, John F McKenna, Joe Tierney.
Brief match report of the 1957 Junior Final
Though the rain soaked conditions of the pitch and the hurricane gale winds allowed little good football, it was tough championship stuff. From the opening whistle feelings ran so high that a mass invasion of the pitch threatened to end the game mid-way through the second half. Play was held up for twenty minutes before the crowd withdrew to the sidelines and the game continued.Tullysaran opened the scoring in the game after two minutes with a point from John F McKenna but that proved to be their only score in the first half going into the interval 0-1 to 1-1. The second half started with Tullysaran breaking away from the throw-in and neat approach work by O'Callaghan, Donnelly and McKenna put winger Noel Collins through for a goal. When J Smyth pointed the next score form a free, Tullysaran were far from finished and a Jimmy Smyth inspired move sent full forward Harry Donnelly clear to crash home a great goal from outside the parallelogram. Unfotunately a late Harps goal turned the game in favour of the city team and they emerged victorious 3-4 to 2-2.To date the team's record that year was almost flawless, with the defeat in the Junior Final the only glitch to what was otherwise a perfect season.By the time the Trodden Cup final was to be played the League table reads that Tullysaran had played 10 matches and won 10 matches.Because Ballymacnab were 2nd in the league the Trodden Cup final would also double up as the Junior League final. And so it was, that on the 29th October, Tullysaran travelled to the Athletic Grounds to play Ballymacnab in this league and Trodden Cup Finale.
Tullysaran defeat Ballymacnab in the Trodden Cup Final.
An almost audible sigh of relief was heard to issue form the lips of the tensed Tullysaran supporters at the Athletic Grounds Armagh, on Sunday 20th October when their team emerged victorious by the narrowest of margins over a worthy Ballymacnab side by the score of 2-4 to 2-3. The heavy rains of the previous day left the pitch in very sodden conditions. It required unlimited stamina to keep going in these underfoot conditions and both teams deserved credit for their efforts. From a fast breakaway Ballymacnab were first into attack and many golden opportunities were wasted before Joe Halpin pointed. Ballymacnab tore through frequently but frittered away their chances. It was a close in free that Jimmy Smyth scored to leave the half time score 0-1 to 0-1. On the resumption Tullysaran attacked and two quick goals left them clear. Jimmy Smyth added three points. J Beagan and G Feighan, both from the Ballymacnab team were sent off. In spite of this severe setback Ballymacnab came back and launced an all out attack. Joe halpin got a goal after a goal mouth scrimmage and soon after T McGuigan had another goal from forty yards out. Ballymacnab scored two more points but Tullysaran just held on to win by 2-4 to 2-3. A victory ceili was held in St. Patrick's Hall in Armagh on Friday the 20th November and the Trodden Cup and Junior League medals were presented to the Tullysaran team by Mr PJ O'Neill, Chariman of the Mid-Division County Board.
Those who received medals were:
Vincent McKenna (captain), Jimmy Smyth, JoeTierney, Jimmy O'Callaghan, Pat Daly, Dessie Farley,
Paddy John Conlon, Mick Conlon, Mosie Daly, Connie McParland, Harry Donnelly, Sean Smyth,
John F Mckenna, Noel Collins, Jim Campbell, Malachy McKenna, Peter Hughes, Joe McGirr,
Brendan Donnelly, Peter Collins, Eamon Collins.
There is little mention of Tullysaran in the late 1950's after the 1957 year. In 1960 there was a good attendance reported at the Tullysaran A.G.M. Tullysaran in this report is referred to as St. Marys. They were also referred to as St. Marys in the 1957 report on their victory ceili in Armagh.
The Committee for 1960 was:
President: Rev. B Quinn, Hon. President: Paddy Conlon & Frank Smyth, Chairman: Vincent McKenna, Vice-Chairman: Malachy McNamara, Treasurer: Hugh Powell, Secretary: Brendan Donnelly, Committee: Eamon Devlin, Gerry Rooney, Frank Mills, Tommy McKenna, Barney Grimley, Jimmy Conlon, Captain: Sean Smyth, Vice-Captain: Jimmy O'Callaghan.
At the end of the 1960 year the club folded which was a shame as a very capable squad had been built up. If the club had stayed together it is argued that the O'Connells would have collected more silverware as many of the players left and found success with other teams. Other players who were coming up through the ranks in Tullysaran at that time also found success with different teams.
Sean Smyth and Dessie Farley won County Senior Championship medals with Collegeland in 1961. On the same day Paddy Donnelly, Malachy Farley and James McGahan won Minor Championship medals with St. Jarlaths. Dessie Farley went on to win an All-Ireland Junior medal with Down and trained the Mournemen when they won the Sam Maguire for the third time in 1968.
Micky Donnelly, Paddy McGuigan, the O'Callaghans, Smyths and the Powells went on to win Minor and Internediate medals with the Pearse Ogs. Des Powell played midfield for Armagh in the All-Ireland Minor semi-final in 1961 and two of the victorious 1957 team, Malachy McKenna and Joe Tierney, won Tyrone J.F.C. medals with Benburb. During the late 1960's a push was made to resurrect a team in Tullysaran. After an announcement at mass a General Meeting was held in Tullysaran School on the 15th December 1968. Thirty-three people attended and with this amount of interest it was evident that Tullysaran G.A.C. would be reborn. A new committee was elected for the following year.
The Committee for 1969 was:
Chairman: Arthur McCartan, Vice-Chairman: Chris McAnallen, Secretary: Brendan Black, Asst. Secretary: Des Powell, Treasurer: Harry Donnelly, Managers: Pat McCartan & Frank Powell, Committee: Micky Connolly, Mosie Daly, Malachy Conlon, Malachy Farley, Paddy Donnelly, Captain: Harry Donnelly.
At the next years A.G.M. this same committee was returned along with Kieran McAnallen and Barney Toner as additional committee members. Norah Donnelly and Una O'Neill were also elected onto the committee representing the Camogie club. In 1970 the field behind the chapel was rented from the parish and Fr Clarke donated an asbestos bungalow as changing rooms. Major Terris donated goalposts and the club was going strong once more. In 1971 the clubrooms were destroyed in an explosion. New club rooms were soon erected and remained until the 1990's. From 1969 the club has had various chairmen. They were Arthur McCartan, Mici McGlennon, Patsy Powell, Brendan McGeary, Brendan Smyth, James McKenna, Hugh McGahan and the present incumbant, Martin McKinney.
Since 1969 many of O'Connells players have worn the county jersey in various grades. They include Cathal Cullen, Padraig Coyle, Cormac Conlon, Patsy Conlon, Brian Daly, Pat McGlone, Jerome Doyle, Jason McGahan, Leonard Conlon and Ciaran Corrigan.
In recent years many of the junior players have also made the grade in the Armagh Development teams. Young footballers such as; Daniel McAnallen, Christopher Hughes, Sean Corrigan, Conor McKinney, John McKeown, Kevin Corrigan, Adrian Conlon, Ryan Conlon, Kieran Mullan, David Comiskey, Barry McKenna, Kevin Hannaway, Conor Hayes and Martin Mallon. Many of the Tullysaran ladies footballers and camogs have also worn the county jersey with pride. On the playing field, the club has reached 6 Junior Championship Finals since 1969. The O'Connells lost to Derrynoose after a replay in 1973 and since then have lost to St. Pauls (1978), Forkhill (1981),Clady (1992), Whitecross( 1996) and Wolfe Tones (2000)In the 1980's the club set about the task of making our playing fields a permanent home. The club, under the presidency of Fr. Patrick Campbell, purchased the playing field from the parish in April 1982. This process and the fund-raising gathered momentum and culminated in the blessing and official opening of the new pitch and club rooms in July 1997. At the present time we now have many teams within the club using our facilities each week. Under 10's, Under 12's, Under 14's, Under 16's, Minor, Under 21's and Senior at both Mens Football and Camogie and Under 14's, Under 16's, Minor and Senior at Ladies Football. That is 18 teams using our facilities each week for training and matches throughout the playing season and that can be very demanding on our resources. With this in mind the club is in final stages of negotiation with the Parish to purchase land adjacent to our present field and clubrooms where we intend to develop a training and all weather pitch. This for generations to come will act as a monument to all those Tullysaran Gaels , who since 1889, kept the G.A.A. and Irish culture in general alive in Tullysaran.
Presently the club is in its 38th year since reformation and with our own permanent home, our large membership and the full support of our community there is no reason why O'Connells cannot become a leading club on the field of play within Co.Armagh.
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